Q: When is an A&E not an A&E?

31/365 Jeremy Hunt announcing downgrading of Lewisham Hospital

A: When it is closed to blue lights.

Lewisham A&E has not been reprieved. An A&E that does not admit blue lights, that takes the 75% of the less-seriously ill people who would have gone before, which refers the seriously ill to another hospital, is not an A&E. It is an urgent care centre with a different name.

I would like someone to stand up in the House of Commons and ask a simple, direct question (why do MPs so often ask long, multiple questions when a single inquiry would be so much more effective?): What, exactly, is the difference between the proposed downgraded A&E and the urgent care centre proposed by the Special Adminstrator?

It’s not always obvious that a condition is life-threatening. My wife was taken to Lewisham A&E – we didn’t know it at the time, but she had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. This was quickly diagnosed by Lewisham A&E and she was rushed into theatre. She had lost 5 litres of blood when they opened her up. If she’d then been sent to Woolwich she’d have been dead by the time she got there.

Her first pregnancy was apparently straightforward. But when our eldest son was born, he was unexpectedly small and had a blood condition call polycythemia – he was rushed straight into neo-natal intensive care in Lewisham, just a couple of floors away from where he was born. He spent 2 weeks there and they saved his life. The pregnancy appeared to be normal, but we unexpectedly needed serious medical intervention.

Things are not always what they seem. You can’t always tell if a medical problem is serious until it’s too late.

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